By John Hirschauer, via Real Clear Education,
A recent survey of nearly 20,000 undergraduates at 55 major American colleges and universities suggests that students at the University of Chicago enjoy the most robust free-speech rights – and not just on paper, but in practice.
The 2020 College Free Speech Rankings is a joint venture of RealClearEducation, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and research firm College Pulse. Questions gauge students’ commitment to free expression and their perception of peer and administrative tolerance for controversial speech. Responses were coded and partitioned by institution and were used to create an Overall Score, grading the colleges and universities on their relative commitment to free speech. The Overall Score aggregates an institution’s performance in five areas: tolerance, openness, administrative support for free speech, self-expression, and the existence of speech codes on campus.
Of the 55 institutions included in the survey, none ranked higher than the University of Chicago. Its Overall Score of 64.2 outpaced second-ranked Kansas State (57.3) by 6.9 points, a larger gap than the one between 10th-ranked University of Arizona (55.3) and 50th-ranked Oklahoma State University (49). Chicago ranked first in student tolerance of controversial speakers, student perception of administrative support for free speech, and students’ perception of their ability to express themselves on campus.
Ninety-two percent of Chicago’s students felt confident that the administration would defend an embattled speaker caught in a free-speech controversy—by far the highest mark received by any institution. In a